Conn Murray, the man tasked with the merger, starts his first full week at the job today.
The beginning of his €150,000 contract has been described locally as marking “a line in the sand” for both Limerick and the Mid-West region.
A native of Co Meath, he lists the dereliction of parts of Limerick city centre as one of his key priorities and insists the “unified voice” of the new authority will help secure Limerick’s footing as a city of 100,000 people.
“Limerick will not survive without a vibrant city. The Mid-West will not be able to take its place as a competitive location for international business or national business without a thriving city. And it’s that focus that will enable us to grow the county as it will the region itself,” he said.
He is reluctant to say yet how long the revitalisation of Limerick will take, but he sees the vacant opera centre site in the city centre as one of the main catalysts for this process.
“There is an expectation that the world may change because there is a unified authority. It will not, but we will work to change that.”
Mr Murray describes his return to Limerick as a “homecoming of sorts,” having previously worked for Limerick City Council from 1997-2003 as assistant town clerk and later as director of services.
Over his last 33-years in local government, he has also managed Waterford City before taking up a position as manager of Louth County Council where he worked for the last five years.
The new Limerick manager said it is inevitable the amalgamation of the two authorities will lead to a reduction in staff numbers due to a duplication of services.
He is reluctant to say what this reduction will be but it is understood it will be in the region of 20% — a similar figure to the one he achieved in Louth.
Limerick’s regeneration project will also come under the remit of the new Limerick local authority.